How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Pep up your look with just a pop of colour
You may have noticed that the clothes shops are bursting with oranges, pinks and purples.
No one is waiting for spring, let alone summer, to wear kingfisher blue — while the Princess of Wales has been striding around in a chilli red trouser suit in the relentlessly chilly weather.
There’s no escaping it, we’re wearing strong colour year-round, and the news from the fashion front-line is that, moving on from tonal dressing (wearing different shades of one colour) and colour-blocking (all one colour), now it’s all about colour-wheel dressing — dressing in three colours that sit next to each other on the colour spectrum. For example, red, orange and yellow.
This is good to know. After all, it’s the working out what goes with what that puts most of us off colour in the first place.
Then again, I don’t want to look like I’m doing the colour-wheel thing because it looks too formulaic.
It’s important to have rules and tricks, and I do like ‘three is the magic number’, just so long as the end result doesn’t look too overthought.
In any case — full disclosure — I don’t feel comfortable in a lot of colour unless my aim is to make an entrance at a glamorous party, and there are none of those on the horizon.
What I want, instead, is to look good, enhance my complexion, brighten my eyes and, ideally, make an impression but not enough to scare the horses.
I could get up on a Monday and put on a turquoise roll-neck, a hot pink jacket and a lilac coat and head off to work.
But that would feel unnatural — several degrees too showtime for my lifestyle — and I’m fairly sure a lot of women will think like me: just give me one shot of colour.
A shot of colour, a dash with navy or khaki, is exactly what I’m in the mood for now. It could be a substantial shot — a tank top, say — or a mere sliver, like the ribbed trim on a V-neck sweater, the stripes on the outside of a trouser leg or the arm bands on a coat.
The point about the shot of colour is it packs a punch but it doesn’t overreach, so it fits in anywhere, feels completely manageable and you will never tire of it, unlike, say, the three colour-wheel splashy outfit.
How many times will that work for you, really?
COLOUR: THE NEW RULES
- Try a bright trim on a sweater.
- Get a sky blue bag.
- Go for a strong coloured tank top.
- Experiment with orange.
If the goal is to wear those colours that we generally only bring out for parties and holidays, then one shot is the way to go — and who knows, it may lead to bigger things.
I’ve started the ball rolling with a bright orange mohair blend tank top from M&S (now £32, marksandspencer.com), a colour I didn’t think I’d suit, but that looks good over a sky blue and white striped shirt. Orange is one of those colours that seems hard, but if you don’t wear it next to your face, it’s an instant outfit lifter — and an injection of it now looks modern.
Cos also does a mohair sleeveless sweater in bright orange or lime green (£69, cos.com).
Or try a colour block sweater, like M&S’s cotton rib funnel-neck in black, white and a big block of orange (now £27) is another way to get your one-shot colour fix. This looks smart with black trousers.
Otherwise, a scarf is the no-brainer colour injector.
Cos does cashmere blend scarves in great colours (£79), or Zara does a satin printed scarf in all the spring brights (£12.99, zara.com) to knot in the neck of your favourite black sweater.
Another good way to add colour is a bag — the neater the better. M&S’s bright sky blue cross body bag (£19.50) is just the right shade to jazzle up last year’s pinks, and green and red are great bag colours to clash with pink or spice up navy.
Try Arket’s midsize green cross body bag (£169, arket.com), or the mini in red (£119), or Mango’s fuchsia shopper (£79.99, shop.mango.com).
Sometimes a trim is all it takes — I love Zara’s bright green trimmed print shirt (£35.99, zara.com).
This is just the beginning.